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In another six weeks, we will mark the 10th anniversary of a very significant event in American political and legal history, the attempted lynching and eventual confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Some things related to those events, however, just won’t seem to go away. And I’m not talking about Anita Hill.
President George Bush nominated Thomas on July 1, 1991. Several days later, I wrote a memo to my boss Paul Weyrich concluding that, to defeat the nomination, Thomas’ opponents would have to invent some accusation of unethical conduct. Sure enough, Senate Democrats and their leftist allies argued all the legitimate (as well as many illegitimate) issues until mid-September but did not get the job done. At least 65 senators, including some Democrats, were ready to vote for Thomas.
Just a few years before, however, the judicial selection rules had radically changed. Democrats captured the Senate in the 1986 election and conspired with leftist legal gurus such as Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe to dramatically politicize the process. They used this slash-and-burn manual when they could not defeat Thomas on the merits. My prediction was fulfilled when Anita Hill made up a series of accusations, told a series of changing stories, about Thomas’ supposedly unethical behavior.
David Brock examined and exposed the anti-Thomas jihad, first in the American Spectator magazine and then in his book, “The Real Anita Hill.” He exposed Anita Hill and the campaign behind her as simply a fraud pursuing a political agenda. The book sold like hotcakes, its author quickly becoming the darling of the talk-show circuit and achieving megapundit status. He was relevant.
No one, however, has a right to a seat on the gravy train. Brock’s ride ended when the Washington Post outed him as a homosexual. It appeared his writing was not out of conviction or purpose but just to get attention, to ride the wave of the moment. So he tried to do the same thing in a different direction, writing a puffy book on Hillary Clinton. It bombed. Conservatives were not interested because Brock was no longer who he said he was. Liberals did not buy it because Brock was not always what he now said he was. Hey, try to be everything to everyone and you might end up being nothing to anyone.
What’s a no-longer-relevant guy to do? Well, whine and claim he’s a victim, that’s what. When no one would buy his pro-Hillary book, he then said he made up the stuff in the anti-Hill book. He was, he said, just a “witting cog in the Republican sleaze machine.” (Actually, calling Republicans a “machine” gives them undeserved credit for design, efficiency and purpose. But I digress.)
Boo hoo. Yeah, it was tough to be David Brock back in the day, what with that best-selling book and all that TV face time and all. And those book parties, speaking engagements, and royalties. What a burden. How did he do it?
When poor David Brock found himself a man without a sleaze machine, he tried again to get attention by throwing a little sleaze of his own at one of President Bush’s judicial nominees. Seems studying Anita Hill’s tactics taught him a thing or two.
Terry Wooten, a federal prosecutor and magistrate in South Carolina for the past decade, was chief Republican counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Thomas nomination. President Bush has nominated him to the U.S. District Court and, like Thomas in 1991, his qualifications are indisputable. And like Thomas in 1991, his opponents are accusing him of unethical conduct because they cannot defeat him on the merits.
This time, though, it’s the man who exposed Anita Hill doing a little Anita Hilling of his own. Brock claims that Wooten in 1991 gave him damaging information from a confidential FBI file compiled on Angela Wright, another woman accusing Thomas of sexual misconduct. Brock published that information in the American Spectator.
The media have inaccurately suggested Brock’s accusation carries the formality and status of an affidavit; the Los Angeles Times called it a “sworn statement” submitted to the Judiciary Committee. In fact, though in it Brock “swears” to its content, the statement is not a legally binding oath at all. It contains neither the necessary reference to federal statute nor the critical “I swear under penalty of perjury” language. It’s simply an allegation, hanging out there with not a shred of supporting evidence or anything to ensure its honesty.
In contrast, Judge Wooten has issued a properly sworn statement that he neither saw nor even knew of an FBI file on Angela Wright, let alone gave any such information to Brock.
So, let’s see. An unsworn accusation by someone who insists he lies about such things and has an enormous axe to grind with Republicans and conservatives. Or a sworn statement by a sitting federal magistrate unequivocally denying that accusation.
This is all such a pathetic no-brainer that even Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy says Judge Wooten will be confirmed. Liberal papers such as USA Today have focused on Wooten’s denial and Leahy’s confirmation prediction rather than Brock’s accusation and even then give the story only an inch or two.
David Brock is crashing and burning, proving that if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything and end up with nothing.